March 9, 2018 – The Excelsior Springs Fire Department welcomed two new firefighters to their ranks.

Jason Ortbals, of Independence, is a trained paramedic.

“I didn’t start out for this profession,” Ortbals said. But nothing he did ever felt right. “Whenever I thought about what I wanted to do, ‘firefighter’ would just pop into my head. So, I followed it.”

He became a firefighter in 2005, starting in Prairie Township, then Joplin Fire Department. He then went to Paramedic School.

Mark Harris grew up in Kearney. He is trained as an EMT. His brother is a firefighter as well, and inspired him to follow along the same path.

“I saw the things he did, and he motivated me to start my EMT training, And I loved it. After that, came fire.” For Harris, helping people drew him to the profession.

They are both excited to work in Excelsior Springs and appreciate the small-town feel.

“Everyone knows everybody,” Ortbals said. He likes the relationships citizens have with one another. “You run to Walmart to get groceries, and you run into everybody you know and get to talk.”

“It’s a small town, and everyone is really close. It just means a lot more to me, working in a small community,” Harris added.

Fire Chief Paul Tribble swore in Ortbals and Harris Monday, March 5 at the Excelsior Springs City Council meeting.

Fire Chief Paul Tribble swore in the new firefighters.

The swearing in of firefighters follows a longtime department tradition, and serves the purpose of confirming, among other things, that they are now a member of a family, and that it is a privilege and an honor to wear the badge of a firefighter.


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